US An Iowa boy is selling baseball bats he makes from fallen trees to raise money for storm victims

22:15  21 november  2020
22:15  21 november  2020 Source:   cnn.com

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A young boy in Iowa saw the devastation a late summer derecho wreaked upon his home state, and soon came Tommy Rhomberg, 12, has raised thousands of dollars for his community by making and selling nearly 115 baseball bats out of wood brought down by the August storm , according to his

Boy 's baseball bats help Iowa storm victims . "We didn't have, like, any damage, but just driving around town there were people with half their house destroyed, and I just wanted to raise money so we could help them, help people rebuild." What if he made bats out of wood brought down by the storm ? His family bought a lathe and so far have made about Do Not Sell My Personal Information.

After a powerful wind storm struck Iowa in August, the city of Mount Vernon was left covered in fallen trees and other debris.

Tommy Rhomberg and his bats, which he carves out of trees brought down by a powerful derecho. © Courtesy Amanda Rhomberg Tommy Rhomberg and his bats, which he carves out of trees brought down by a powerful derecho.

That's when 12-year-old Tommy Rhomberg stepped up to the plate.

Using fallen branches, Tommy designed and carved more than 200 baseball bats, which he sold to raise money for victims of the widespread wind storm, known as a derecho. For each bat sold for $100, he donated $20 to the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund.

Tommy came up with the idea on the day of the storm, which happened to be his best friend's birthday. Knowing Walker Viessman's love for baseball -- and surrounded by fallen trees from the storm -- Tommy decided to gift his friend a hand-carved bat.

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His mom asked him if he would make her a bat , and that's when an idea took shape: Rhomberg would make bats and donate the money earned to help people who needed to rebuild after the derecho. Using wood that came down during the storm , Rhomberg has so far made about 115 bats

"This is just Tommy," Amanda Rhomberg, Tommy's mom, told CNN. "He's always been super creative and loves building stuff. He woke up at 6 a.m. to work on it over the course of a few days until it was perfect. When I saw it, my jaw just dropped."

Amanda says Tommy made the bat using his grandfather's whittling tools and sand paper, and that he worked until his hands were covered in blisters.

Viessman, also 12, was amazed by his friend's thoughtful gift.

"I didn't expect anything for my birthday, but when Tommy brought me the bat he made me, I was so excited and thankful I have that great of a friend," Viessman told CNN. "It was so nice of him to spend that much time making me a bat for my birthday."

After Amanda posted photos of the bat on Facebook, the post went viral and hundreds of people asked if Tommy could make them bats.

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Before long, Tommy's parents bought a lathe to help him carve more bats, which he calls "The Great Derecho," and designed a website where he can sell them. They also helped him come up with the idea to use a portion of the proceeds to help neighbors impacted by the storm.

"I wanted to make my friend Walker a bat for his birthday," Tommy said. "I had no idea lots of other people would want one too. I like being able to help, and I'm glad if people don't have money to rebuild they can use some of the money donated from the bats instead."

After buyers place an order, the self-taught woodworker begins by taking a fallen log to a nearby farm, where it's cut into smaller pieces. His dad then saws the pieces into octagons before Tommy finally lathes them into bats.

"I don't know how his little hands can do so much," Amanda said. "He has put in hundreds of hours into making these bats. I am so proud of him for teaching himself a new skill and starting a business while doing so much good. He shows that you can make a difference in your corner of the world by doing what you can with what you have."

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The bats, which are about 30 inches long, can't be used to play baseball, as the fallen wood will crack as the wood dries over time. But people can keep them as "a little memento from the storm," Amanda said.

Tommy has a waiting list of more than 600 people who want to buy one of his bats.

While he isn't sure how many more he'll make -- "I am 12 years old and my parents won't let me drop out of the 6th grade," he said -- interested buyers can track his progress on Facebook.

a little boy posing for a picture: Tommy Rhomberg, right, and Walker Viessman hold the bat Tommy made for Walker. © Courtesy Amanda Rhomberg Tommy Rhomberg, right, and Walker Viessman hold the bat Tommy made for Walker. Rhomberg carving one of his homemade bats. © Courtesy Amanda Rhomberg Rhomberg carving one of his homemade bats.

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